Thursday, October 22, 2020

Legend of the Black Rose

Though I didn’t grow up in the literal pulp era, I started reading paperback fiction in the 1960s and 70s that was a direct descendent of the pulps. One of the first authors I fell in love with was Louis L’Amour, who started in the pulps. The first published novel that I wrote was Swords of Talera, in the tradition of  Edgar Rice Burroughs, the pulp writer who gave us John Carter of Mars and Tarzan of the Apes. Today, pulp fiction has come to mean colorful, thrilling tales, with plenty of action, larger than life characters, and exciting derring-do. And when I want a fun read I go looking for exactly that kind of work.

Teleport to the present, and I’m both amazed and honored that I’ve been able to write some of the same kind of stories and see them published. Writing is, quite often, hard work. But the sheer joy to be found in immersing oneself in an exciting tale cannot be denied. Quite simply, I love it.

On January 1, 2020, I officially started working on a pulp fiction book to be called Vengeance of the Black Rose. It was to be the 3rd book in a series about a female hero known as “The Black Rose,” who is most directly a literary descendent of such masked avengers as Zorro and the Lone Ranger. That book was just published on October 14, my birthday, and one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever gotten.

The series as a whole is a fun read. Catalina Christina Rivera (The Black Rose) is a young woman who grew up along the Texas/Mexico border in the late 1800s and early 1900s. She has a keen sense of justice and a character that is sometimes prickly but always empathic for the wounded and the frail. She has a great supporting cast around her, and is adept with many weapons but particularly favors the Urumi, the whip-sword—a unique tool to be sure.

Richard Prosch, a friend and an author who frequently gets five star reviews from me for his work, was intimately involved in the development of the Black Rose character, and he wrote the first two books in the series: Legend of the Black Rose, and The Sword of the Black Rose. I read the first one while working on my entry and it sent me enthusiastically to my keyboard to put down my own take on the character.

And so we come to Vengeance of the Black Rose. Catalina travels with several companions to the small mission of San Javier del Amor, only to find the mission burned and many of its inhabitants slain. Others have been taken away in chains, particularly many children. The raider who took the children seems to be more than a bandit, and perhaps more than human. He is called “The Beast,” or sometimes “El Tigre.” Catalina trails him into Mexico, only to discover El Tigre’s plan to raise a new Aztec empire.

In confronting El Tigre, Catalina loses a close friend. She’ll need every ounce of skill she possesses to save her remaining friends and to take her vengeance. I had fun writing this story and I have a feeling you might have fun reading it. I hope you’ll check it out:


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

2019 - 2020 Reading Stats

Some of you may remember that I record my reading year from October 14 (my birthday) to October 13 of the next year. Then I typically give a report on it. So, here is my reading report for October 2019 to October 2020.

I wasn’t particularly surprised that my number of read books this year was down from last year, which was a record setting year for me with 129 completed books. I was somewhat surprised that it was much lower than my typical average of 90 to 100 books read a year. I only finished 66 books this past year, which is my lowest number since 2001/2002.

I’m pretty sure I know the reasons why the number is down so much. First, the Covid pandemic has taken its toll on me. It’s added considerably to my workload at school, requiring both more time reassuring students and much more time learning a whole new approach to teaching. I’m still not satisfied with all my adjustments. Covid has also affected my mood, although as an introvert I don’t think it’s caused me any kind of real depression. But, when I do get a few minutes off I’ve often chosen mindless video games over the cognitive involvement of reading. It’s a stress escape behavior.

The second reason why my reading numbers is down, however, is much more positive. I’ve completed three 74,000 word (roughly) novels in the past year, and I’m proud of all of them. This has upped my nonfiction reading, for research purposes, but a lot of that is on line or articles that don’t get counted in my book totals. In addition, where I used to sit down in the evening for an hour or two with a good book, I’m often returning to my computer these days to finish my word count for the day—a necessary action to meet deadlines and to work around my regular job hours.

As far as details go. My SF reading was up this year, with 12 books in that genre. It was my go to genre apparently. Perhaps another escape since the books I wrote had nothing to do with SF. My westerns and thrillers were at 9 each, which was well down from the 20+ in each last year. The 5 nonfiction books I read were all research related. 2 of the 3 poetry books I read were also research related.

The only other interesting thing is that last year, for the first time, I started separating out “Men’s adventure Novels” as a genre. I had 5 then, and 5 more this year so that seems pretty stable. At any rate, thanks for letting me indulge myself once more in “talkin’ about books.” Till next year!


Friday, September 04, 2020

The Black Rose

There's a long tradition in pulp fiction of the masked avenger, the individual who dispenses justice at the point of a sword or through the barrel of a gun when the authorities can't or won't. From the western/historical genre we have Zorro, the Lone Ranger, The Masked Rider (Hobart),  and others. From the thriller pulps we see such characters as The Shadow, The Spider, The Phantom, and more.  From comics we have Batman, Daredevil, and a host of others. One thing you don't see outside of the rare comic (I can't think of any off the top of my head although I'm sure there's at least one out there) is a masked avenger who is also a woman.

Enter Catalina Christina Rivera--The Black Rose. If I had to draw comparisons, I'd say the Black Rose is most similar to Zorro. But in reality she combines elements of all kinds of masked heroes with a modern pacing. This is the first book in the series and is a lot of fun. Fast action, interesting character with a fascinating back story, a great supporting cast, and headlong pacing. I highly recommend it.

Great cover too!  If you want it, here's the link

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

My First Podcast

Richard Prosch, over at Six-Gun Justice, recently asked me a few questions about writing and reading. It's mostly western related, but not all. We talk about a variety of topics, and get into the books I've written lately for Wolfpack Publishing. This was my very first experience with a podcast but Richard made it easy and I really enjoyed it. 

Richard is a fine writer himself. I've probably read 85 percent of what he's written, and have particularly loved his Dan Spalding Mystery series, which I collect. Check his work out on Amazon

As for my books that we talk about on the podcast, here are the links below: 

As Charles Allen Gramlich: The Talera series

As Tyler Boone (westerns): The Scarred One: Killing Trail

As A. W. Hart: The Wine of Violence

As always, thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

What Happens When You Finish a Book

I have some writer friends, professionals who make much of their living from writing, who finish one book and immediately start another. No downtime. No decompression. No wait between. I don't make my living from writing and don't usually have to do that.

l declared my latest book done this morning and sent it in to the Editor. About 73,000 words. A western/historical. I understand there may be edits down the line but for now I can let that work slip out of my mind. Or can I? Easier said than done.

The first part of the book was a bit of a struggle but once the characters jelled it became a lot of fun. And now it's done. And I don't have another book contract immediately. I have a few minutes to breath. But on my walk I found myself working over the ending of the book again. I had to make myself stop. And last night when I went to bed, I had to force my thoughts into unusual channels because I was not still writing the book, only giving it the final read through to make sure it was as good as I could make it.

Now, what am I going to do with myself today? Well, if you're reading this then you know one thing I'm doing. It's not a book but I'm going to write something today anyway. This blog, and probably a short flash fiction I've been asked to do. But not the book I've lived with for the past four months (give or take).

And what will I do tonight when I lay down to sleep? Every night for months now I've been living inside that book for a little while when I laid down. Tonight I won't need to. Tonight my thoughts will be free. That's kind of scary.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Heroika Skirmishers

Quite a few years ago now I fell in love with the "Thieves World" anthology series. These were one of the very first "shared world" anthologies, in which different writers wrote tales in the same setting and had the characters interact with each other. A writer that really caught my attention from that series was Janet Morris, and I went on to read many books by her. She's one of my favorite fantasy authors.

A couple of years back, I got an opportunity to write a story for an anthology called Heroika Skirmishers, which was conceived by Janet Morris. This is the second in the Heroika series. The first was Dragon Eaters, and I've read and reviewed that one on Goodreads and Amazon. It was an excellent collection.

I was incredibly thrilled to be able to write a story for Ms. Morris and I'm happy with the tale that came out. It's called, "In the Season of Rust." The editor of the anthology, A. L. Butcher, is doing a series of short interviews with the authors in the book, and with their characters. I had fun with that, particularly for my character, who is named "Sheaugu." That interview has gone up now and you can find it here if you're interested. I hope you are.

If you'd like to see more about the book, you can find it on Amazon: